A fleet of fertilizer-spreader trucks normally occupied with farm fields convoyed across rural Georgia to assist the city of Atlanta in removal of the snow from a winter storm that gridlocked the city.
They supplemented the city’s round-the-clock operations to spread salt, sand and gravel to melt the ice and provide traction to passenger and commercial vehicles.
“They just needed some help. They just couldn’t get it done with what they had,” said Terry Embry, whose father owns Embry Farm Services in Eatonton and sent three trucks and four drivers after salting Eatonton’s streets first.
Atlanta’s Pothole Division had all 30 of its trucks on the streets. Most are dump trucks with spreader attachments rather than the dedicated spreaders the fertilizer companies brought.
“It was definitely a challenge, not what we’re used to doing,” said Tyler Johnson, owner of Smith Farm Supply from Warrenton.
Johnson was called first to make the 100-mile trek to Atlanta. Once they arrived, they worked non-stop – that is if you don’t count stopping to help motorists push stuck cars.
“You don’t know what’s around the next turn,” he said. “You’re coming around a bend, and there’s a school bus.”
Embry said the treatment was good from everyone he encountered – even the children throwing snowballs at the trucks.
“They needed us. We had the stuff sitting here. It worked out well for us,” he said.
Bryan Tolar, president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, said his organization has never been called on to arrange spreaders but would be willing. He said this years’ experience showed how beneficial rural-urban cooperation can be.
“This just shows farmers are caretakers, both at home and in the big city,” he said.